Washington Capitals forward Brooks Laich joined his teammates during their morning skate Tuesday at Kettler Capitals Iceplex as he continues to recover from a groin injury suffered while playing overseas during the NHL lockout.
Laich did not provide comment after leaving the ice, but head coach Adam Oates said that the 29-year-old forward "looks a lot better." Oates, however, did not have a timetable for Laich's return.
"It's one of those situations where I've got to trust the trainers and doctors, so in terms of evaluation, how soon, I don't know," Oates said. "Sometimes, it might linger, sometimes it must just go to that next level and feel great."
Laich skated with the Capitals for the first time this season last Thursday in Toronto before they faced the Maple Leafs, who are at Verizon Center Tuesday. According to Oates, Laich is "really close" to taking contact, which he believes is the next step in his recovery.
"I can only speak from experience where I had a couple groin injuries and you feel like it's lingering and then all of a sudden, one day, you feel like, 'Wow, it's that much better that I can take contact,'" Oates said. "And once you get over that hurdle, you're fine."
Laich is on Washington's non-roster list and can be activated at any time. The Capitals, however, are not obligated to pay him until he returns from injury.
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